Parasitoid-induced mortality of Araneus omnicolor (Araneae, Araneidae) by Hymenoepimecis sp. (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonidae) in southeastern Brazil


All species included in the Polysphincta genus-group develop as ectophagous parasitoids of active spiders, killing their hosts prior to pupation. However, little information regarding natural history and ovipositing behavior of most species are available. In this study we inspected 85 webs of Araneus omnicolor to evaluate the frequency of parasitism and host size preferences of the wasp Hymenoepimecis sp. We also described the web characteristics of normal and parasitized spiders and the wasp ovipositing behavior. About 41% of the adult females of A. omnicolor inspected were parasitized. The highest incidence of parasitism was observed among relatively small females while no egg or larva was found in large individuals. Araneus omnicolor builds a strong web composed of an orb and barrier threads, where the spider rests within a curled leaf. The parasitoid larva builds its cocoon within this refuge, and modified cocoon webs were not observed. The ovipositing behavior of Hymenoepimecis sp. was very similar to that of Hymenoepimecis argyraphaga parasitizing Leucauge argyra, including the position of the sting, the killing of a previously attached larva, and the expelling of the egg from the base of the ovipositor.

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This work was supported by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (proc. 04/06072-4 to M.O. Gonzaga) and Fundação Mary Brown (research grant to J.F. Sobczak). We would like to thank Helena C. Onody for the identification of Hymenoepimecis sp. and Adalberto J. Santos, Cristina A. Rheims, and Natália O. Leiner for suggestions on the first version of the manuscript. This study complies with the current laws of Brazil.

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Correspondence to Marcelo O. Gonzaga.

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Gonzaga, M.O., Sobczak, J.F. Parasitoid-induced mortality of Araneus omnicolor (Araneae, Araneidae) by Hymenoepimecis sp. (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonidae) in southeastern Brazil. Naturwissenschaften 94, 223–227 (2007).

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  • Ovipositing behavior
  • Araneus omnicolor
  • Hymenoepimecis sp.